CDR - Recherches post doctorales achevées

The Economy of Halal in French-speaking European Countries (UE Marie Curie 2016-2021)

Dr Ayang Utriza Yakin

The research entitled ‘The Economy of Halal in French-speaking European Countries’, is focusing the “halal booming” phenomenon mainly on Belgium and partly on France. It attempts to describe three things: first, to demonstrate how the understanding and idea of halal underwent a profound transformation in Belgium between the 1960s and the 2010s. It aims to describe the trajectory of the halal concept within the Belgian context. Second, it focuses on the halal certification bodies (HCB) in Belgium and its ramifications. One of them is a gradual transformation of the ulama whom have been ‘replaced’ by the HCB with regard to halal issues. Third, it assesses Muslim economic practice in northern France to explore the convergence between ethics (halal), ethnicity (the identity of a certain group), and labeling in the halal market. The objective of the project tries to describe a current and emerging economy within Muslim communities in Belgium and France.
Based on an interdisciplinary approach within the Social Sciences, the research methodology is based on historical, juridical, and socio-anthropological on multiple aspects of halal. For data collection, it is relied on ethnographical research within Belgium’s and French Muslim communities.
Results: (1.) The concept of halal is socially constructed, fabricated, and produced through a long process, where the name, the idea, the word, the concept, and the meaning of halal and its understanding is being ceaselessly reconfigured and uninterruptedly adjusted in a specific context. (2.) The normalization and standardization of halal by HCBs should be read as a modern way of creating harmony between the Islamic tradition, the national economic interests, and the international business guidelines. This leads to the conclusion that halal, like other aspects of Islamic law, has become thoroughly standardized through modern means and resources. This practice points to a gradual shift in religious authority from ulama to HCB, especially in deciding the “halalness” of certain products and services, within the European context. (3.) The halal supermarket in France is not a result of religious conservatism or (neo-) fundamentalism, as certain scholars suggest, but of a combination of the spirit and ethics of the modern economy, Islamic religiosity and Maghreb ethnicity. The concept and practice of halal trading, halal marketing and halal management are based on those of modern economics, that are infused with and colored by Islamic ethics, morals and values.
Rethinking Halal. Genealogy, Current Trends, and New Interpretations, Brill, 2021 (A.U. Yakin et L.-L. Christians dir.)

Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights: New Dynamics and Influences on European Pluralism.

Dr Elisabeth Diamantopoulou (UE Marie Curie, 2012-2014)

Our research project addressed the issue of Human Rights with regard to Eastern Orthodoxy and the Orthodox Christian Tradition within the contemporary European context, which is marked by the phenomenon of multicultural societies and the challenges of religious pluralism. Since the European Union’s enlargement in 2005, Orthodox Christianity has become a significant religious actor along with other Christian confessions in Europe. In this context, our project aimed at contributing to a better understanding of the Eastern Orthodox tradition and culture, by promoting further scientific knowledge with regard to the various aspects of Eastern Orthodoxy, as well as enhancing scientific interdisciplinary dialogue, and the exchange of ideas among scholars (professors, researchers, PhD students, postdocs, and Master students in Religious Studies). Hence, our research’s broader objective was to contribute to the promotion of the scientific study of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is an under-researched, emerging field, and especially in the academic and research milieus of French-speaking Belgium. An original aspect of our research lies precisely in its European (but also international) interreligious and intercultural dimension, which gives emphasis in analysing the resources of internal diversities of Christianity and exploring new paths of scientific reflexivities, going beyond the usual bipolarization between the Christian world and Islam.
The topic of Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights is complex and remains an under- researched and under-published field. This issue has mainly been explored sociologically, with a focus on the Russian Orthodox Church. This is the reason why the first step of our research was to organise a kick-off conference, in order to have a fruitful scientific dialogue and exchange of views with international expert scholars from a variety of geographical and disciplinary backgrounds. The two main objectives of this event were, firstly, to highlight the researh areas that needed to be enhanced and, secondly, to test the main hypothesis of our research project. The first fields to have been extensively covered by our research are: 1) the systematic study of the European case law on Orthodoxy and religious freedom, 2)the issue of religious blasphemy and 3) the relationship between the extremist right-wing politics and Orthodoxy in contemporary Greece.
A first follow-up of these first steps is the publication of the collective book, “Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe: Theology, Law and Religion in interaction”, which is the outcome of the international conference of April 2013, and the research conducted until now on the above-mentioned topics. The objective of the collective book (to be published in February 2015) is to fill the void in terms of research/publications from an interdisciplinary and comparative approach between Orthodox countries. Another contribution is the comparative socio-legal and politicoreligious approach on the issue of religious freedom. Our book’s novelty is the attempt to tackle the issue of Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights comparatively for the first time (plus a comparative approach with other Christian confessions and Islam). The only recent publication on this subject is the book « Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights », by A. Brüning and E. van der Zweerde (eds), Eastern Christian Studies, Peeters: Leuven, 2012. This book is however limited mainly to the Russian Orthodox case study, as well as the Orthodox countries of the ex-communist bloc.
A second follow-up, in order to ensure the continuity of the scientific interactions in our research field, and to further enhance our research hypothesis, consisted in the organisation of a series of monthly conferences on Orthodox Christianity (October 2013-June 2014) that were given by invited scholars (Professors/researchers/PhD students) from Belgium and abroad (Greece, Germany, Luxembourg, France). This event brought together professors/researchers/students coming from different scientific backgrounds (sociology of religions, law, theology, ethics, anthropology, political sciences, history of religions, etc.), to discuss interdisciplinary topics with regard to our research project (Eastern Orthodox Christianity), having as a common axe the triptych: public space/ religion / normativity. The conferences addressed the following topics: 1. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as a Political Actor, 2. Ethnophyletism in the 19th century and the issue of Nationalism in the Contemporary Orthodox World, 3. The Representations of the Orthodox Churches at the European Union: Field Experiences, 4. Orthodox Churches and Synodality, 5. Religious Discourse and Radical Right Politics in Contemporary Greece, 6. The Financial Crisis in Greece: its Orthodox and Cultural Context, 7. Secularisation in Orthodox Context (the Russian example), 8. The iconoclast and iconophile Discourses in the 8th century: A Theological debate, Founder of Byzantine Orthodoxy. The scientific dialogue that was enhanced during these conference meetings confirmed various aspects of our research hypothesis with regard to the specificities of Eastern Orthodoxy - compared to the other Christian confessions -, pertaining in particular to a) the complex configurations of Church/State relationships that are determined by the Orthodox theological ideal/concept of “symphonia”, and the deviations from this ideal, as reflected in the legislative, administrative and judicial practices of Orthodox states regarding violations of religious freedom; b) the peculiarities of the Orthodox theological Tradition itself (common in all Orthodox countries), which underlie and influence Church/State related politics, and, to a lesser degree, also legislative and judicial (case-law) practices; c) the nationalistic dimension inherent in Orthodoxy, which impregnates all aspects of the public sphere in Orthodox majority countries.
Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics, Peter Lang, 2018, Elisabeth Diamanopoulou and Louis-Léon Christians (dir.)